Friday, December 13, 2013

More Shots Fired in Snowmobile Wars

Four days after environmentalists sued Uncle Sam for opening up 3,000 miles of trails to motorized vehicles in Clearwater National Forest, two Idaho counties have gone to court demanding that 200 more miles be opened. Clearwater and Idaho Counties sued the U.S. Forest Service in Federal Court, claiming their residents will lose jobs, money and recreational opportunities under the government's plan. Three environmental groups sued the Forest Service last week, claiming its approval of 3,000 miles of off-road vehicle trails will "have significant, negative impacts on practically every aspect of the natural environment." Now, the two counties claim the Forest Service's Record of Decision (ROD) for its November 2011 Travel Management Plan illegally wipes out 200 miles of trails previously open to motorized vehicles. The counties claim it also designates portions of the forest as de-facto wilderness without Congressional approval. The plan prohibits the use of snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles (ORVs) in designated areas. This will affect timber harvesting, which will derail local economies, the counties say. The Travel Management Plan was developed without consideration for the counties' own land use plans, as required by federal law, the lawsuit states. It creates a "de-facto" wilderness out of Recommended Wilderness Areas (RWAs) based on "insufficient" and "non-existent" data from the Forest Service's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the counties say...more

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